Brand Report: Zara
Ellie Deane 10014551
Final Major Project FA3T03
Who are they? Zara is a fashion brand owned by Spanish company Inditex who also owns brands such as Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti & Zara Home, amongst others. They state that: “At Inditex, we like what we do. We apply common sense to all of our decisions; we look for simple solutions, and practicality is always our first option. We're big, but we like to hang on to the speed, freedom and flexibility of when we were small. We want to learn, and we believe that we can continue to grow every day. We're the sum of each of our employees, and now there are more than 100,000 of us”i The first store is thought to have opened in 1975, by owner Amancio Ortega Gaona in the Spanish city A Coruña. Zara became popular across Spain, which lead to the first store outside of Spain being opened in 1988 in Portugal. Over the years, Zara’s popularity and success has grown to such an extent that in 2011, Inditex had stores across five continentsii. Zara own a proportion of the factories that their garments are made in, and ensure that the schedules of these factories are kept clear half of the time in order for them to respond quickly to new trends. This prompt turnaround is reported in an article on the Business of Fashion website on 4th March 2013 to be as short as only two weeks, and the article also goes on to say that Zara has two separate sourcing teams. The first of which is dedicated solely to core products, whilst the other team work on the fast fashion sector. There has always been controversy with the likeness of fast fashion designs to those that are featured on catwalks produced by some of the top design houses of the fashion world, as Neil Fraiman, professor at the Columbia Business School is quoted as saying that “Zara has 250 designers, but they’re mostly copiers”iii The idea behind Zara as a brand is that their clothes are simple and on trend and it is for that reason that the brand doesn’t feel the need engage in a lot of PR in order to gain success. They are known for being a secretive company, who rarely do interviews, yet in an article written by Suzy Hansen for the New York Times on 9th November 2012 she gains exclusive access to the usually very quiet and secretive headquarters of Inditex. When describing Zara, she states how their clothes are “trendy and decently made but inexpensive products sold in beautiful, high-endlooking stores”iv
How are they using social media? Zara are known for being slightly behind other major brands when it comes to selling their products online and using the internet to their advantage. They did not launch their e-commerce site until 2011, a whole eleven years after award winning online retailer Asos was launchedv. Despite this, Business of Fashion reported in March 2013 that “According to an estimate released this week [7th March 2013] by Credit Suisse, Inditex, the Spanish company that owns ‘fast fashion’ giant Zara, will achieve 2
online sales of over 600 million euros in 2013, almost double that of 2012”vi. They have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr accounts; however they do not update them as regularly as their competitors do. For starters, the link to their Flickr account on the Zara website does not work. This is a simple issue that could be rectified, however to date it has been faulty for almost 4 months, and even if it were correct, their Flickr page hasn’t had any photographs uploaded since 10th November 2011.vii
Figure 1 page displayed when clicked on the link given to their Flickr page on their website.
Facebook is the world’s most well-known social media platform, and as of December 2012 it had over a billion monthly active users.viii Despite Zara having over eighteen million ‘likes’, a healthy number of fans on the world’s most famous social networking site, from a critical point of view it is hard to understand why they do not seem to take advantage of the captive audience they have at their fingertips. There are people that have already opted to be informed with updates from the brand, waiting for information, and are easy to interact with at just the click of a button. As well as this, many customers are used to using Facebook as a way to contact a brand about issues with products and orders.
Figure 2 Comment posted by a Zara customer on their Facebook page on 5th March 2013
As shown in the image above, it is clear to see that it is not uncommon for Zara to leave these questions and queries unanswered for some time, and Lynn Graham’s case was not the only one to be seen on the page. Comments such as these that go left without prompt and efficient replies can be damaging to the brand’s reputation, as these complaints are available for everyone to see. Across this platform, as well as Twitter and YouTube, Zara tend post the same content, which can often bore a customer. If the customer were to follow Zara across all of the social networking platforms that they use, the customer would see the same things regurgitated across all of them. For example, on Wednesday 6th February 2013, they posted the same link to the Zara Spring/Summer 2013 video campaign on both Twitter and Facebook, which lead viewers to the video on their YouTube site. Another note to add is that this was the first time Zara had tweeted anything on their official Twitter account since 7th December 2012, breaking a whole 61 days of silence between Zara and their followers. Looking at the twitter accounts of their competitors such as Reiss, it is hard to find a gap of more than one or two days where they have not posted something, making Zara’s use of the platform very unusual in comparison. Twitter is a really useful communication tool which enables customers and brands to interact in a very instant way using only 140 characters.
Figure 3 Zara's official Twitter page
Zara, to date, has not used Twitter to interact with their customers in this way, as they ask followers to contact their customer service team through their website instead. Pinterest is the only social media platform that Zara uses to its fullest potential. They post folders (or ‘boards’ as they are termed) full of images for each of their line’s different collections, and update the site as soon as the new season arrives. It is the 4
go-to site for fans to see the photographs taken featuring garments soon to be in store. The only drawback to this is that they do not post many images of anything other than their own stock in the same way that other brands do. For example, New York designer Kate Spade is one of the most followed brands on Pinterest, inviting people to “Follow us for a glimpse into the world of Kate Spade New York.”ix Posting a variety of images on boards that are used for inspiration, fans are able to see the though t patterns for each of the looks, and get an insight into how a designer works.
Who are their competitors and what are they doing with Social Media? Zara’s main competitors are in most cases those in which they share the high street with. In the United Kingdom, these include stores such as Topshop, River Island, H&M, Dorothy Perkins, & Reiss. As well as these, online retailer Asos is also a main competitor. All of these other brands are successful in using social media as a way to connect with their customers. The most successful of these brands in terms of their use of social media is Asos. They have separate Twitter accounts for different sections of their brand, such as womenswear & menswear, along with accounts for job vacancies and most importantly, one dedicated to customer service. Using their twitter handle, ‘@ASOS_HereToHelp’ they do exactly what it says, use social media as a customer service tool. The tweets are replied to within minutes, and their customer service team promptly and efficiently deal with any problems. It is because of this helpful and no-nonsense attitude towards handling praise, complaints and queries that Asos has such a positive reputation amongst its customers.
Figure 4 Tweet from Carys Huws, an Asos customer singing their praises. 15/04/13
All of Zara’s competitors are also regular users of the image based social network Instagram, which is something that Zara currently do not have (although there is an account stating to be ‘Official Zara’ however this is not confirmed by the brand in any way). It is a really effective way of brands sharing quickly edited images with their
followers and it was proven to be incredibly successful throughout the most recent season of Fashion Week’s across London, Paris & Milan.
Figure 5 Instagram images from H&M, Reiss, Topshop & River Island
In terms of Facebook, their main competitor is Topshop, who have just fewer than 3.3 million ‘likes’ on their fan page. This is in contrast to Zara’s impressive 18+ million ‘likes’x, which to their credit is very impressive. This high number could possibly be accredited to the fact that Zara has stores in 86 countriesxi, in comparison to Topshop’s presence in only 35xii, and therefore has a larger number of brand loyal customers. When it comes to YouTube, Topshop are also really successful in frequently updating their account with many different videos to keep their subscribers entertained. The most popular video by far is one featuring the most successful models of the moment, Cara Delevingne, Rosie Tapner & Jourdan Dunn doing the dance craze ‘Harlem Shake’ which has over one million views. It is these kinds of videos that aren’t stereotypical or boring, that are still brand focussed, that ensure that fans of the high street company check back to see what’s new.
Figure 6 Topshp Podcasts - Harlem Shale - Supermodels Cara, Rosie and Jourdan backstage at Topshop Unique AW 13
Although Pinterest isnâ€™t as popular as the other social media platforms, it is still a useful place for brands to show their fans images of their most recently released garments, as well as images of things they, as a brand, currently like. An example of a company that uses Pinterest successfully is Reiss. They update the site regularly, and chose interesting images to share with their viewers.
Figure 7 Reiss's Pinterest account
Zara’s customers: who are they & what do they think? When visiting the newly opened Zara flagship store on London’s infamous Oxford Street, it was clear that they had made a considerable effort to remind customers about the experience of shopping. With polite and helpful staff, well displayed garments and even a luxurious cream leather sofa, the store is every shopper’s dream. The ever debated ‘bricks versus clicks’ theory has made high street brands such as Zara think more closely about how they can entice customers into their stores instead of making purchases online. This is done by offering customers excellent customer service as well as an exciting store experience. Location is everything when it comes to Zara and they spend a great deal of time deciding where their stores are situated. It was reported in the New York Times article discussed previously that “The marketing Inditex does do is all about real estate. The company invests heavily in the beauty, historical appeal and location of its shops.”xiii This was apparent when it came to the purchasing of a space on New York’s infamous Fifth Avenue in March 2011, where it was reported by Bloomberg Business Week that Inditex bought the premises for $324,000. Previously owned by the NBA, the 39,000 square foot store is close to the Museum of Modern Art and the Rockefeller Centre is quoted in a formal statement made by Inditex as being in “one of the major shopping areas of the world”xiv The opening of Zara’s London flagship store was eagerly anticipated by the fashion industry, and was analyzed by the industries most trusted source for information, WGSN.
Figure 8 Key points from WGSN's report into social media
In their report about the store, they outlined the key elements to its success such as its ‘Premium look’ and ‘intimate boutique setting’. Despite the success of the store, and its physical impact on customer’s and their relationship with Zara as a brand, it begs the question as to whether or not a stunningly immaculate boutique styled store is enough to encourage brand loyalty. During a visit to the aforementioned store, twenty six year old admin assistant, Sarah, was interviewed about what she thought of Zara. She explained that she usually visits the brand’s stores most times she goes shopping, but only tends to buy something from there once or twice a month. When asked why this was she said that “I try not to get sucked into the idea of impulse buying too much. I try to go in with an idea of what kind of thing I want to buy. Otherwise I would have no money left for rent, bills or food!”
Figure 9 Zara's Flagship Store. Oxford Street, London
Sarah has obviously picked up on the mentality instilled into their brand-loyal customers that if they don’t buy a garment that they have their eye on when they see it, it may not be there when they return to the store at a later date. This is because Zara are famed for having an incredibly quick turnaround which means that once the 9
stock is sold out, it is rarely replenished. They are very much at the forefront of the ‘fast fashion’ movement in retail as briefly mentioned previously, which Lorna Hall, Head of retail and strategy at WGSN discussed in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek in March 2013.
Figure 10 Lorna Hall, WGSN, interviewed about the launch of Zara's new flagship store. Bloomberg Businessweek
Hall states that “If you don’t buy it now, you might not get it later which is one of their fundamentals. They don’t repeat as often as any other fashion retailer which drives desire and drives need.”xv As a result of Sarah’s initial responses to this topic in the interview conducted at the Oxford Street store, she was asked whether or not she thought it was more important to have an impressive store, or for a brand to have good interaction with customers outside of the store using social media. Her response to this was that she thought they were both equally as important as each other, and said that “I don’t think you can have one without the other these days really.” This lead to her being questioned about her personal social media activity and her interaction with Zara on the sites that they use, at which point she explained how she has both Facebook and Twitter, and also an Instagram account, however she tends to use Twitter the most. She echoes the findings of this research by saying that she does follow Zara on Twitter; however she has noticed that they never really seem to post anything. As well as this interview conducted, fifty seven people age 18-50+ who all buy clothes from Zara also filled out a questionnaire designed to look at peoples social media habits, and analyse how effective Zara was at using social media in comparison with their competitors.
The results were that out of the 57 people asked only 5 of them (8.9%) like Zara on Facebook despite 56 of the people asked said that they used the social media platform.
This means that Zara are missing out on communicating with 51 people who have already stated that they are Zara customers, all because they do not interact with the brand on Facebook. This is also the case with Twitter, as thirty nine people questioned stated that they have an account, however only four of them follow Zara.
How could they improve? It is suggested that Zara make a number of relatively minor and cost effective improvements to the way in which they use social media. The first of these changes is that they produce unique content for each platform that they use. For example, it is advised that they use Facebook as a base, as it is often the first place a customer searches for a brand. From here there will be links to the other sites. It is strongly advised that they establish an Instagram account, and verify this is official by including the link to it on their website alongside their existing accounts. It is also recommended that they follow the example of Asosâ€™s Twitter activity and create a separate account for each of their lines, as well as one dedicated solely to customer service. It is essential that Zara are seen to be making an effort with their customers to answer their questions and queries in order to build a sense of trust. With regards to Zaraâ€™s YouTube account, it is recommended that as well as uploading their seasonal campaigns, they should also create behind the scenes videos as well as insights into the world of Zara, for example interviews with staff, models & photographers etc. this will ensure that viewers check back more often to see what kind of video has been uploaded, maintaining a level of excitement. Finally, it is advised that Zara slightly alter the content of their subscription emails. They often feature just images from the most recent look-book, with little more information, but this could now include links to the new and improved social media sites, including events, interviews, and competitions. 11
Appendices (A) Interview conducted at Zara’s London flagship store – Park House, Oxford Street on 13th April 2013. Sarah, 26, Admin Assistant, Coventry. Q. How often to do you shop in Zara A. I always look in there when I go shopping, but I only buy things once or twice a month. I try not to get sucked into the idea of impulse buying too much. I try to go in with an idea of what kind of thing I want to buy. Otherwise I would have no money left for rent, bills or food! Q. What occasions do you buy clothes from Zara for? A. Mainly for work. I like their smart clothes because they always seem quite on trend. I have bought the odd dress or going out style outfit from there too, but rarely casual wear. Q. What social networking sites do you use? A. I have Facebook, Twitter & Instagram Q. Which of these do you think you use the most? A. If you had asked me that a year ago, I would have said Facebook, but I think I probably use Twitter more now. Q. Why do you think that is? A. I think it seems more instant, and I quite like being limited to a small amount of characters to write with. Q. What do you think is more important? An impressive store or good interaction with customers outside of the store (ie on Social media sites) A. I think they’re equally important! I don’t think you can have one without the other these days really. Q. Do you like/follow Zara on any social networking sites? A. I started following them on Twitter a while ago, but they never really seem to post anything. Q. Do you think that Zara should be doing more in terms of social media? A. Yeah, I think they probably could be doing more. You never seem to see any adverting campaigns for them, or anything posted on social networking sites about them really. They’re quite easily forgettable in comparison to say, Topshop. I can imagine they’d be quite hard to contact if you had a query or complaint unless you actually went into a store. 12
Appendices (B) Questionnaire: Social Media: Should Zara Be Doing More?
Inditex recruitment website http://www.joinfashioninditex.com/joinfashion/en/join-us Accessed 10th April 2013 ii Zara timeline – Inditex http://www.inditex.com/en/who_we_are/timeline Accessed 11th April 2013 iii Op-Ed Fast Fashion Winners & Losers. Business of Fashion. Guest Contributor. 4th March 2013, http://www.businessoffashion.com/2013/03/op-ed-fast-fashion-winners-losers.html Accessed 6th March 2013 iv “How Zara Grew into the World’s Largest Fashion Retailer”. Suzy Hansen, New York Times Magazine. 9th November 2012 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/magazine/how-zara-grew-into-theworlds-largest-fashion-retailer.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2& Accessed 14th March 2013 v Asos timeline http://www.asos.com/infopages/pgeaboutus.aspx?r=2 Accessed 18th March 2013 vi Inditex E-Commerce Sales Soar.Anaya, S. 7th March 2013 http://www.businessoffashion.com/2013/03/inditex-online-sales-soar.html Accessed 17th March 2013 vii Incorrect link to ‘Flickr’ on the Zara website. http://www.flickr.com/photos/zara_global/collections/ Accessed first on 20th January 2013 viii Key Facts – Facebook http://newsroom.fb.com/Key-Facts Accessed April 16th 2013 ix Kate Spade Ney York, Pinterest. http://pinterest.com/katespadeny/ Accessed 5th May 2013 x Facebook ‘Like’ statistic figures correct as of 12th April 2013 xi “Zara welcomes shoppers in 86 countries” http://www.inditex.com/en/who_we_are/concepts/zara Accessed 14th April 2013 xii Topshop has stores in 35 of the 38 countries listed http://www.arcadiagroup.co.uk/aboutus/international/international-stores-1 Accessed 14th April 2013 xiii “How Zara Grew into the World’s Largest Fashion Retailer.” Suzy Hansen. New York Times Magazine, November 9th 2012 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/magazine/how-zara-grew-into-theworlds-largest-fashion-retailer.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2& Accessed 14th March 2013 xiv Zara’s parents buys fifth avenue store for $324m. 5th March 2011 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-04/zara-parent-inditex-pays-324-million-for-fifth-avenuestore-in-manhattan.html Accessed 15th March 2013 xv Bloomerg Business Week 13 March 2013. “Lorna Hall, Head of Retail and Strategy at WGSN, discusses the attention to detail at Zara and the keys to their success. She speaks on Bloomberg Television’s ‘The Pulse.’” http://www.businessweek.com/videos/2013-03-13/how-zara-gets-shoppersin-the-door Accessed 17th March 2013